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The Appetite for Information, Part 1

On April 7, 2009, I had the rare opportunity to meet Bob Dylan. Getting backstage with Dylan is extremely rare. The venue was in Paris, France, and obviously a very long way from my Southern California office. Times were not good business-wise. The great recession was (is?) devastating the business environment. Many of our competitors were (are?) filing for bankruptcy. I was torn between business and pleasure. Nevertheless, the opportunity to meet him made the decision a no-brainer.




Since my boyhood aspirations to write became obvious and my first listen to Dylan intersected, I’ve deeply admired him as a master wordsmith. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the best in the business and though history alone will tell, I believe him to be a national treasure when it comes to literary genius and American music. So then, no matter how difficult the business environment, when the opportunity to actually meet Robert Zimmerman (AKA “Bob Dylan”) came along, there wasn’t any question; I was as good as gone.




Having kept pace with modern technology offered some comfort as I left for a month during such economic chaos. Though I was halfway around the world, business was never far behind. I couldn’t help but marvel at just how far technology had come. I remember sitting on a high speed train as it sliced its way through the French countryside at 300 plus miles per hour. I had the best of both worlds, or so it seemed. I stared back and forth into my laptop, torn between business responsibilities and the incredible view, filled with anticipation at the thought of meeting Dylan. Though my wife and I were embarking upon an incredible journey, when necessary I was able to work on the never-ending list of projects and problems that a struggling business provides.




Fortunately for me and my wanderlust, we had spent years prior to that trip morphing our organization into a 21st century business. With a small business server, wireless connection, smartphone, laptop, portable printer/scanner (all of which fit handily into a laptop carrying case), our management was ready to do business anywhere. It was as though I had never left my desk. Through remote access, I was looking at the exact computer screen and doing precisely the same things I do on a daily basis. The railcar literally became from my office when I wanted it to be.




Technology has untethered us from the bricks and mortar of yesteryears business world, enabling the office to travel with us wherever we go. To this very day, I cannot help but marvel at how technology has completely revolutionized our business model. For example: Nowadays we have a small fleet of fuel efficient vehicles completely equipped as mobile offices. Rarely does our supervision need to come to the office. They can travel directly to projects with access to anything they need in the office. That single change has enabled us to increase efficiency, easily expand into new regions, saving us all kinds of time and money as we venture into areas that were once beyond easy reach. Don’t get me started; I could easily spend the rest of this article describing how technology has revolutionized and improved business. That’s the good news.




Good News/Bad News


Now for the bad news. Though we have such incredible capacity, we also have an electronic leash which at times feels like an inescapable choke chain. Meanwhile both society and the business world possess an ever increasing and insatiable appetite for information and they want it now! Hence, another quick yank on that choke chain and the stranglehold intensifies. The speed of the request for information and the action it requires has intensified as technology has advanced. Consequently the expectation of an equally rapid response has also intensified proportionally. The appetite for information, which has always existed, quickly turns into starvation as inquirers impatiently await the meal they’ve come to expect. They have an appetite for information and it better be fast food!




It’s hard to believe mankind has come from carrier pigeons and smoke signals, from the pony express, to the postal service, fax, email, text and twitter. Instant and easy communication has replaced the dust of horse hooves and the fuel and sweat of the postmen. Wells Fargo Bank illustrates the stark contrast between past and present with its signature stagecoach logo placed just above its advertisement for on-line banking. Nowadays, information-wise, everything can be anywhere with the push of a button or the click of a mouse.




As Dylan Said


As Dylan said nearly a half century ago, “Your old road is / Rapidly agin’ / Please get out of the new one / If you can’t lend your hand / For the times they are a-changin’.”




As I’ve already stated, I am fascinated with technology, and as a business we do chase technology’s never-ending advances. Nevertheless, sometimes I wonder if we’ve done ourselves any favors. How do we keep up with the ever-increasing demand? How can we keep employees, colleges and customers “well fed” as they get increasingly hungry? How do we deal with the ever-increasing appetite for information? What is it that we do and don’t do? You want to know my quick and easy answer? Give me a month and I’ll get back to you with part two!




Doug Bellamy is president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif., where he is known for his proactive, innovative approach to our changing industry, and use of modern technology and cutting edge products and services.

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